Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.46 13 Jul 2021


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A temporary ban on alcohol sales at airports should be considered to help ensure the safe return of passenger flights this summer, campaigners say.

There's expected to be a significant rise in the number of people and families travelling through airports, once restrictions on international travel are eased from next Monday.

Air traffic has already picked up in the US, but the flying experience isn't quite the same as it was pre-lockdown.

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Both American and Southwest Airlines recently announced they were postponing the return of in-flight alcohol sales due to a rise in unruly passengers - as well as some violent incidents targeting flight attendants.

Paula Leonard, Lead of the National Community Action on Alcohol Programme, told Newstalk Breakfast Ireland should consider a similar approach as foreign travel resumes over the coming weeks.

Temporary ban on alcohol sales at airports should be considered as flights resume, campaigners say

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She said: “I think it’s really important the Government does consider what they can do. Some EU law applies, some Irish law applies… in fact, the Government already has in their action plan for this year that they’d engage with the work of the nighttime economy task force with a view to modernise alcohol licensing.

“What we’re saying to them is - in terms of the safety of passengers and the reported spike in incidents - that it’s absolutely time to take a look at what’s happened with aerodrome licences and passenger flight licences.

“I think the Government needs to take a nuanced approach to this and pull the evidence together… and ask ‘do we need something urgent to happen right now?’”

Ms Leonard said there were already concerns about bad behaviour on flights pre-pandemic, with many incidents fuelled by alcohol.

She said her group does want the Government and EU to consider restrictions on alcohol sales on flights - but noted that the laws governing international aviation are complex.

However, she suggested the situation is different when it comes to airports.

She observed: “The Irish Government and Irish licensing laws apply in the airport - I think you could put a pause on that at the moment. I think the Government should consider that.”

The campaigner argued they could either change the hours during which alcohol is served in airport bars, or put in place a temporary ban.

However, she believes an EU-wide discussion is needed about alcohol consumption on flights themselves on a long-term basis.

Main image: File photo of Dublin Airport. Picture by: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images

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